By Daragh Ó Conchúir
KILKENNY manager Ann Downey hailed the team ethic of her side as they imposed themselves on Galway to win by 1-17 to 0-13 at Nowlan Park and claim top spot in Group 2 of the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship.
That secures them a place in the Semi-Finals, which is also the reward of champions Cork, a 6-18 to 3-4 defeat of Offaly at Páirc Uí Rinn cementing their position on the summit of Group 1.
The pairings for the Quarter-Finals were determined too and Waterford were the major story, as they made the knockout stages for the first time thanks to a goal and nine points from Beth Carton in their 1-11 to 0-12 defeat of Clare in Cusack Park.
The Déise girls will play Tipperary, who drew 0-13 apiece with Dublin at Parnell Park. The Dubs will now take on Galway. Both games will take place at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on August 4th, with the Semi-Finals at Semple Stadium two weeks later.
“The girls really stood up” said Downey after her team’s triumph. “I am delighted with the performance to be honest. Galway got off to a great start. Our girls really dug in.
“The penalty (goal from Denise Gaule) came 12 minutes into the second half so you couldn’t say you were home and dry paying against such a good Galway team.
“It’s a team sport and you can’t be leaving it to one player to do all the work and they know that. They’re a great bunch and they fight tooth and nail for one another.”
Cathal Murray was experiencing defeat for the first time since taking over as Galway boss after the League.
He wasn’t happy with a lot of what he saw against the Cats but knows that it’s still all to play for in terms of the overall prize.
“We’re still in the Championship and are out again in two weeks” said Murray. “Dublin are gonna be a serious team. They won three games and drew with Tipperary today.
“An awful lot of things weren’t good enough today and we’re going to have to work on a few things. It’s a big test of the character but we’re not out of it.”
Denise Gaule hit a goal and eight points for the Cats and though Ailish O’Reilly was a threat in the first half, Galway were unable to land a real blow in the second half.
Waterford were the story of the day, though they had to endure a nervous second half after looking like strolling to victory when Carton hit the first goal and four points.
A stunning Lauren Solan save denied her another goal and from there, Chloe Morey dragged Clare back into the game. Morey finished with 10 points but Carton kept Waterford’s noses in front.
Cork prevailed in a scorefest against Offaly. They tried hard and Arlene Watkins helped herself to three goals but Aoife Murray (penalty), Niamh McCarthy, Julia White (two), Orla Cotter and Katrina Mackey raised green flags for Paudie Murray’s outfit, while Aoife Murray also saved a penalty from the competition’s leading goalscorer (with five), Siobhán Flannery.
Championship leading scorer Cáit Devane shot seven points, including the equaliser as Tipperary showed tremendous battling qualities for the second week in a row.
Siobhán Kehoe, Orla Beagan and Eimear McCarthy had helped Dublin go five points in front in the second half but scores from Eibhlís McDonnell, Miriam Campion and Devane ensured a share of the spoils.
In the day’s final tie, Wexford beat Meath by 4-14 to 1-10 at Enniscorthy’s St Patrick’s Park.